Two Nights on the Mekong: A Homestay Experience

This morning, we left our hotel for the last time. It was a local hotel situated in a lovely alley full of bike repair shops, industrial supplies, and hardware stores – busy in the day, but very quiet at night! It was kind of a neat experience, walking out the front door and feeling like you’ve entered a mechanic’s shop. Definitely a different ambience than I’m used to, but I was into it.

We caught a taxi to the bus station, where we fended off a horde of people trying to sell us bus tickets. We were headed to Vinh Long, a city located on the Mekong. There are two buses that go here – one is local and brings you right into town, and the other kicks you out on the highway, 4 km away. Oh, and the local one is cheaper too! Despite being pulled away and our bags taken onto the wrong bus, we managed to get on the local bus just before it left. An hour or so later, and we were in Vinh Long!

We wanted to do a homestay on An Binh island, and there are plenty to choose from. Forever winging it, we decided to just head to the pier and hope somebody would approach us with a homestay. We stood there looking lost for maybe 45 seconds, when our hopes were fulfilled! A lady came by and told us about her family’s homestay, Ngoc Phuong. I’d heard good things online, so we went for it!

She told us to get onto the ferry, and her sister would pay for it and pick us up on the other side. The ferry is as insane as you’d expect – countless scooters crowd on, laden with boxes and bags of all sorts of stuff, dodging around pedestrians. Unlike ferries back home, these ferries aren’t open on both sides, so everyone has to do an awkward 180 degree turn that results in even more chaos. It is definitely an experience.

 

On the other side, two motos were waiting for us. We hopped on, bouncing and swerving our way to the homestay down uneven and broken concrete paths (they were not wide enough to warrant being called roads). We were shown to our  rooms – modest, but decently nice.

Within minutes, we were doing what we came to do – lay in the hammocks with zero plans of moving.

We did break our vow of laziness once, to bike into town and buy some coconuts for 10,000 dong. These coconuts, bought at this old man’s little shop next to the ferry pier, were the best I’ve had, ever. The water was sweet, coconutty, and almost carbonated, and the meat was crunchy and flavourful. I wish I could always have them!!

Dinner and breakfast were included in the homestay, and they were feasts. The first night, we were served an entire elephant fish, along with spring rolls, rice, chicken, and fruit. Even though this meal is the most expensive one we’d ever bought in Asia (100,000 dong per person, or 5.50 CAD), it was amazing. And still super cheap; that wouldn’t even get you much of a meal at McDonald’s back home!

Unfortunately, we don’t have any good pictures, because we were so hungry that we ate everything before remembering to capture it. I’m not made for Instagram, that’s for sure..

 

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The fish for two

 

The next day, we did a whole bunch more chilling in the hammocks, interspersed with a short bike ride to explore the island. By short, I do mean short. It started raining only about 30 minutes in, so we thought it would be wise to return to our hammocks. Better safe than sorry and wet!

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Boats on the river
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Morning glory
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So lush!
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Small island = small roads

The second dinner was really good too – luckily, they change up the menu depending on how many nights you’ve been there. You can always tell how long somebody has been there based on the food they’re served. Once again, we failed on the photography front – by the time we remembered to take a picture, the food was not picturesque in the least. I can say that it was delicious, however! We had different spring rolls, a sort of savoury crepe that I don’t know the name of, fried fish, and rice. It was all delicious.

We had great company both nights as well – a German couple, an older Belgian man, and a French-Canadian guy were all staying at the homestay with us. We chatted until late, but not too late: we had a bus to catch the next morning to Ho Chi Minh City!

 

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2 thoughts on “Two Nights on the Mekong: A Homestay Experience

  1. The fish looks so yummy, I like the way it is served, vertical and on two sticks!
    You kids in the candy store, surrounded by metal, metal and more metal. I can imagine that you felt like you belong:)!
    The green lush landscape is amazing, wow! So so so so beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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